Bonoīs songwriting in The Joshua Tree - U2 Feedback

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Old 12-26-2001, 06:42 PM   #1
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Bonoīs songwriting in The Joshua Tree

Okay, after my last frustrated attempts to post pictures of Bono and young Elijah in the swimmingpool , after feeding the kids and the cat, washing my daughterīs hair, washing the dishes, exercising in my bike and finally taking a shower , I pick up Carter Alanīs book The Road to Pop to lighten up a bit. Then I found something I felt like sharing with yaīll. Heīs interviewing Bono and Edge, round the time of the release of JT:

First the author says to Bono "You can strip the music away from The Joshua Tree and read these lyrics as poetry."

"Itīs not poetry," he replied, "itīs words...but itīs written from the point of view of a person who believes in the power of words. If that means a poet, sure. Itīs the first time I really wanted to write words for songs; I used to make it up as I went along and just occasionally write down some words. "Sunday Bloody Sunday"...we wrote words to that. Actually, it was Edgeīs idea to approach that issue (of violence on SBS), but everybody thinks itīs me because Iīm the guy with the flag", he chuckled.
Edge, who has been gazing out the window, remarked, "So I get the blame now."
Bono smiled and continued. "So ocasionally I used to write down words on a piece of paper or tear my hair out while I was trying to write words into the music, but now itīs different. I think the success of The Joshua Tree is that despite the bleak landscape of some of the songs, somehow or another itīs an uplifiting record. You see, we got this thing we got to carry around with us about U2 - weīre uplifting, weīre supposed to write these anthems -"
Well, youīve built the house," Carter Alan retorted.
The two exploded in laughter before Bono conceded, "Okay! Got to live in it! The way to be optimistic is not to shut your eyes and close your ears. As a word writer I had to write things with a lot more detail on this record than I ever did before. That meant lifting the stones and writing about what was underneath the stones - the underbelly of the landscapes...what was under the skin of it."

Beautiful, isnīt it?


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Old 12-26-2001, 07:49 PM   #2
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Thanks Follower,

I really like how Bono could conceptualize things...how he could articulate concepts so poetically during that time. I guess he still can, and does, but he used the poetic device of image so much that it became a habit...a good habit, at the time. Even in conversation, you can tell what a poet he was. I love the line, "The underbelly of the landscapes...what was under the skin of it." That' s a perfect way to describe The Joshua Tree.

It's funny, because a lot of people say that not many "get" Pop, but I really think there are many who don't "get" Joshua Tree. It's not a commercially sounding album, like so many insist. In fact, it's an extraordinary album because it succeeded so well commercially, inspite of it sounding like nothing else out there at all, at the time. One could even argue, in this light, it was even more original than Achtung Baby, as you can hear many of the industrial sounds that were going on at the time in Achtung, whereas in Joshua, it's like it's coming from somewhere else entirely, like it has no roots. (Of course, it does have some American blues influence, and some Irish influence, but not so much in its sound...moreso in its themes. Even bluesy songs such as 'RunningTSS' sound like they are dislocated.)

That's something that U2 achieved with Joshua Tree: a body of work that was original, in the true sense of the word.

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[This message has been edited by Michael Griffiths (edited 12-26-2001).]

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Old 12-26-2001, 09:26 PM   #3
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Thanks for sharing follower, that was beautiful!
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Old 12-26-2001, 09:55 PM   #4
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I agree on the fact that it's pretty amazing that The Joshua Tree sold as well as it did. Looking back, it almost feels like a project album when compared to a lot of the popular music back in the mid 80s. That kind of wide open, middle of nowhere sound that is especially found on WTSHNN, and to an extent on every song, is what really was different. The band even felt like there wasn't a legitimate single on the album. It took some convincing from Gavin Friday to release WOWY as a single, and it ended up being perhaps their most known song worldwide. There is some kind of different feeling on that album, that seems to evoke comparisons to Pink Floyd or Radiohead. There is almost a feeling of Zen, or a meditative spirit that follows you in every song. It shouldn't be commercial, but yet it was. It was one of the biggest selling albums of the 80s, and remains one of the most popular albums ever.

I can't put my finger on what makes it feel like that. As I've said before, it almost seems to rise above everything else, like it was predestined to become huge, and forever change the lives of the band and their fans. Maybe it's an element of Godliness, or just the fact that they took music that had been ignored for years, and combined it with everything they and their producers knew about creating a masterful album. Either way, it came out pretty darn good, and I don't know if we could've asked for more.

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Old 12-27-2001, 01:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by follower:
The way to be optimistic is not to shut your eyes and close your ears.
Thanks for this! I've kidnapped it and put it in my sig!

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You can dream, so dream out loud!

"The way to be optimistic is not to shut your eyes and close your ears." -Bono

Create Light, Create Unity, Create Joy, CREATE PEACE!
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Old 12-27-2001, 03:52 PM   #6
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Some great and thoughtful posts here, thanks for sharing. I think Bono was kinda modest when he said that his songwriting in JT itīs not poetry...it is IMO

I love this quote here:

You see, we got this thing we got to carry around with us about U2 - weīre uplifting, weīre supposed to write these anthems

And thatīs the reason why I love you so much, we love you so much.
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Old 12-28-2001, 01:49 PM   #7
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I don't want this thread to die virtually unnoticed, so I'm giving it the old bumparooski.

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Old 12-28-2001, 04:12 PM   #8
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great thread follower
wonderful reply Michael



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Old 12-28-2001, 04:59 PM   #9
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Too much.......U2 info!
Nice 1 Follower, add to my intake today, just read 93 pages of Into The Heart, Niall Stokes dive into the meaing of ALL of U2's songs, and just listening to War.......overload!!!

Ah might take a break and go watch Elevation DVD
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Old 12-28-2001, 08:31 PM   #10
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Iīm glad you liked the thread guys. Carter Alanīs book is interesting and there are lots of interviews with the boys. I read some reviews in Amazon.com where people stated that the book is great when the 80īs material and tours are concerned, but itīs poor when it comes to the 90īs. Even so, I bought it and I didnīt regret.

lazyboy, I have the previous edition of Niall Stokesīs Into the Heart, with the songs until POP. I like the book, although I donīt agree with some of his interpretations.

Back to JT, today I finally got my bootleg of a concert avaiable at womanfish.com, itīs from JT Tour, San Francisco, 25th April 1987. Iīve heard it twice non-stop, since I got home this evening, really great. They played Springhill Mining Disaster and Mothers of Disappeared, marvellous. There are also 7 tracks of soundchecks, including 2 non-released songs. Itīs worth.
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Old 12-29-2001, 02:04 AM   #11
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Great post!

The songwriting in JT is very rich and colorful, it does feel like poetry.

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"We feel like this is unfinished business - there's things for us left to do and that's why we still do it." - Larry

"For us, each night on stage has to be like the last night on earth. That's the way our band operates-we can't play the songs unless we're fully into them." - Bono

"The music itself will tell you where to go." - Edge (about recording)

"It's an elevation thing." - Adam (when asked why there's pictures from airport on ATYCLB cover)
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Old 12-29-2001, 08:35 PM   #12
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Got your message in the other thread follower

Yeah, I ain't so sure of some of his interpretations either, but lots are pretty much definite, and well, fed me with alot of unknown stuff anyway, but as they say, alot of the songs are full of variations in how you can interpret them, still love book though Gotta get that Bill Flanagan 1 next!
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Old 12-29-2001, 08:50 PM   #13
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The songwriting in the Joshua Tree stands out as much for the underrated tracks as those better-known ones.

Running to Stand Still, Exit, and Trip Through Your Wires have all had a pretty bad rap over the years. In fact there's one guy on the Rolling Stone U2 board who's convinced that RTSS is just Bono's lame attempt to rewrite Lou Reed's 'Heroin'. I don't buy that. You've got to take these songs on their own terms.

It's a bit hard to see the beauty in Joshua Tree when you've heard it too often. Because really, it is NOT at all mainstream in its sound. It just feels that way because so many of the songs have been played to death.
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